Sheldon Keefe Explains Why He Demoted William Nylander

Published March 20, 2023 at 10:04 PM

Despite nearing career highs in goals and points, William Nylander has been demoted to the Toronto Maple Leafs' third line. His ice time has decreased over the last three games, and he has been held pointless while only registering seven shots on goal.

Keefe Demotes Nylander to Send a Message, Wants More Consistency

Head coach Sheldon Keefe has expressed dissatisfaction with Nylander's recent performance and wants to see more consistency from the 27-year-old forward.

"There's a lot more perimeter, a lot more getting rid of the puck. I want him to hang on to it. I want him to challenge. I want him to be on the attack. I want to see lots of pace. That's when he's at his best." - Keefe on Nylander's recent struggles

The new line configurations place Nylander with Bobby McMann and Sam Lafferty on the third line, while Auston Matthews centers Alexander Kerfoot and Calle Jarnkrok. John Tavares plays alongside Mitch Marner and Michael Bunting.

Keefe believes that playing Nylander with Lafferty and McMann will encourage him to drive the line and be more consistent. Nylander has previously expressed a desire for his coach to push him when his performance falters.

"Playing him more with guys who are going to skate and move their feet, that he can be the guy that really drives things. That's really the idea."

The Maple Leafs are currently battling for second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They hold a three-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning and have two games in hand. The team aims to maximize their star-studded lineup, and if that means Nylander plays with Lafferty and McMann to regain his form, they are willing to make that change. Nylander remains on the top power play unit, giving him ample opportunity to contribute offensively and potentially return to the top-6.

As seen on Maple Leafs Insider - Sheldon Keefe says Nylander's recent demotion is about sending a message, needing more from him
March 20   |   210 answers
Sheldon Keefe Explains Why He Demoted William Nylander

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